25Jun2022
COVID-19 Big Hearts Policy Update Calling All Climate Champions To Apply
logotype

Contacts

3 E Colt Square Drive, Fayetteville, AR 72703

Info@CommunitiesU.org

479.443.2700

FY2021

PPP Loans

PPP Loans

Some groups were overlooked when the CARES Act was first passed. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, followed and included additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Changes were made to guidelines to impact those with the greatest need. Then the PPP Extension Act of 2021 was passed, extending the deadline of the Paycheck Protection Program, or until funding was no longer available. Communities Unlimited (CU) made 290 PPP loans totaling over $4 million to childcare centers, water and sewer systems, small-scale farmers and small businesses in nine states.

Moma Keta’s Childcare is in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Makethia was determined to keep Moma Keta’s doors open. Makethia decided that the struggling parents that counted on her for childcare and the four employees that depended on her for a paycheck were more important. She chose not to take a salary, so she could pay her employees and keep the doors open. Communities Unlimited started reaching out to the Arkansas Childhood Association to help daycare owners in Arkansas. Makethia received $7,040 in a forgivable loan under the PPP program.

Cherry Tree Rural Water District (RWD) in Stilwell, Oklahoma, saw an approximately 40% reduction in revenues because of COVID-19. The revenue loss was primarily because of the early closing of schools in the middle of March 2020 and the loss of jobs, with 90% of the households served are members of the Cherokee Nation and the system already in a persistent poverty county. Cherry Tree RWD is working with limited staff, one full-time office clerk, and one full-time water operator. The office clerk has had regular video conferences with CU staff to determine the best course of action in unprecedented times. Cherry Tree RWD district learned from CU that they were eligible for the PPP Loan and applied and received $30,730 to aid them in continuing to provide safe, clean drinking water to their customers.

Calvin Head is the Director of Mileston Cooperative, a Black-owned farm cooperative in Tchula, Mississippi. An entity had advertised the PPP loan to the cooperative. They required the farmers, most of whom do not have computers or broadband, to upload their documents to a portal. There was no one to assist them and answer their questions. The farmers became frustrated and said, “forget about it.” CU stepped in and offered an alternative, a person rather than a portal. Someone to answer questions and assist in preparing documents.

Allison Bruning and her husband Delfin Espinosa started Academic Warriors, an online private school for children with learning disabilities and/or who are on the autism spectrum or have ADHD. Allison and Delfin had applied when the first and second rounds of PPP loans opened but were told they didn’t meet the requirements. Academic Warriors has experienced many difficulties since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. They ended up having to let all of their teachers go. A representative from US Small Business Administration (SBA) emailed Allison letting her know that because of the changes to guidelines, Academic Warriors may now qualify for a PPP loan and gave Amanda the contact information for Communities Unlimited. She applied and was approved. The funds allowed Academic Warriors to pay teachers, replace equipment and help cover operating expenses.

FY2021

Sewer Service For All of Magnolia

The City of Magnolia, Mississippi, wanted to extend city sewer service to all its residents but did not have the financial resources to do so without outside funding. The homes in the area of North Street had always used septic systems. The septic systems were failing, and some residents had pipes that went directly into ditches. Residents were afraid their children would get sick from the raw sewage if they played in the yard. Magnolia needed a long-term solution.

They asked Communities Unlimited to assess the unserved area and determine what would be needed to connect all 30 homes in the area of North Street to city sewer. Communities Unlimited assessment assisted engineers in developing the most effective option for the Magnolia. It also aided the city in receiving the funding needed to cover the cost of connecting every home to city sewer.

Communities Unlimited’s part in the project was made possible by the Rural Community Development (RCD) program. RCD serves small communities in rural areas mainly comprised of low-income residents who do not have access to safe, clean water and sanitary wastewater disposal and often do not have indoor plumbing. The RCD program is one of six programs within the Office of Community Services (OCS) located within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) part of the US Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS).

FY2021

New Office, More Opportunities

Communities Unlimited believes one of the most effective ways to accomplish our mission is with partners. The Amarillo Area Foundation began asking community organizations what their community needed to thrive. Puff Niegos, local Philanthropist, Linda Crank, a vice president of Happy State Bank, and Clay Stribling, President and CEO, of the Amarillo Area Foundation, were instrumental in bringing Communities Unlimited to the area.

The Amarillo Area Foundation chose to invite Communities Unlimited to open our first office to offer all of our services to Amarillo and the 26 rural counties in the Texas Panhandle. Happy State Bank offered office space they had vacated because they built a full-service bank across the street. Linda compares Communities Unlimited to a drop of water in a pond that ripples outward. CU held a ribbon cutting with the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce, inviting clients, area organizations and banks. Cocina On The Go catered the event, owned and operated by Anna Lisa Ramos, one of Communities Unlimited’s first small business clients in Amarillo. The six banks including Happy State Bank, that make up the Amarillo Area Foundation Panhandle Financial Collaborative (PFC) were part of a panel on obtaining capital for small businesses.

We have since announced our partnership with the T.L.L. Temple Foundation Rural Opportunity Catalyst for East Texas Initiative (ROC-ET). The foundation recognized that many people in East Texas could not access life-changing economic opportunities. The rural people in East Texas needed access to a CDFI and small business consulting services. They chose Communities Unlimited and a PeopleFund to fill the gap.

One of Communities Unlimited’s first partnerships was the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Inc. (RCAP). We continue to add new partnerships every year including the Partners for Rural Transformation (PRT) and many others extending our services beyond our seven-state service to be part of building healthy communities, healthy businesses and healthy families.

FY2021

Sowing The Seeds

The CARES Act initially overlooked small-scale minority farmers. When the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan was announced, the guidelines were changed to impact those with the greatest need. Communities Unlimited called small-scale farmers in the Delta and offered assistance.

Calvin Head is the Director of Mileston Cooperative, a Black-owned farm cooperative in Tchula, MS. An entity had advertised the PPP loan to the cooperative. They required the farmers, most of whom do not have computers or broadband, to upload their documents to a portal. There was no one to assist them and answer their questions. The farmers became frustrated and said, “forget about it.” CU stepped in and offered an alternative a person rather than a portal. Someone to answer questions and assist in preparing documents.

Debra Lockard never even considered applying for a PPP loan because she didn’t think she knew how and wouldn’t be able to do it. CU told her not to worry. Someone would be with her every step of the way.

15 small-scale farmers in the Mississippi River Delta received PPP loans from Communities Unlimited. It may not be a big number, but the funds those farmers received meant they got to keep their land. They were able to get to plant and grow another season. They have the opportunity because of the funding to fill the gaps in a food system that has depended on transporting produce thousands of miles across the country or from other countries. It means creating jobs in communities where jobs were scarce before many businesses closed.